U.S. Conference of Mayors Passes Two LGBTQ-Inclusive Resolutions at Annual Meeting

During the annual U.S. Conference of Mayors Meeting, held this year in Boston, the group passed two LGBTQ-affirming resolutions, building on one approved last year and showing broad, bipartisan support for protecting the LGBTQ community from discrimination.

The first resolution concerned Title IX protections for transgender students in schools. For the past several years, transgender students across the country have had to fight in court for their right to use facilities that correspond to their gender identity. In 2016, the Obama administration approved and administered guidance to schools on how best to accommodate transgender students. However, in early 2017, President Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos rescinded this guidance, and DeVos later announced her department would not investigate claims of discrimination made by transgender students.

In the resolution, the mayors stated:

“The U.S. Conference of Mayors concurs that the Title IX prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sex includes, by definition, discrimination on the basis of gender identity, and strongly disagrees with the decision by the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice to roll back protections against gender identity discrimination for vulnerable students.”

The second resolution passed concerned nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people, specifically religious carveouts around existing protections. The resolution comes following the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case, which involved a Colorado bakery who refused service to a same-sex couple, with the owner claiming selling a cake to the couple would violate his religious beliefs. The Court stopped short of issuing a virtual license to discriminate, but ruled that in this specific case, the baker’s fight to free expression had been violated by the state’s Civil Rights Commission in their initial investigation and findings.

The mayors’ resolution stated, in part:

“The U.S. Conference of Mayors opposes the dangerous religious exemptions sought by the Masterpiece Cakeshop plaintiffs, and believes that maintaining the inclusiveness of our communities requires that public accommodations be open to everyone.”

The resolutions further add to the group’s already strong support for the LGBTQ community. During the 2017 conference, a resolution was approved supporting the efforts of mayors to use their resources to fight LGBTQ discrimination.

These resolutions were spearheaded by our Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination coalition, our group of over 300 mayors who have signed a pledge to combat discrimination in their communities. Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination is a program of Freedom for All Americans.

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Mayors Nationwide Show Support For LGBTQ Nondiscrimination at Boston Pride

June 19, 2018 by admin

Editors’ Note: Special thanks to Thais DeMarco Mapstone of Melrose, MA for taking these beautiful pictures as part of their work with Freedom for All Massachusetts.

 During the annual Boston Pride celebration on June 9, mayors from across the country joined together to show their collective support for LGBTQ nondiscrimination, and to speak out against a ballot initiative seeking to repeal protections for transgender people this November in the Bay State.

The mayors were in Boston for the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. A spokesperson from the ACLU of Massachusetts addressed the gathered mayors about the Masterpiece Supreme Court decision, reached on June 4.

Following the law’s signing, anti-LGBTQ opponents met the low threshold of signatures required to force the issue to the 2018 ballot, making Massachusetts the first state ever to have to specifically defend transgender people in a statewide election.

 

 

 

The day of Pride, led by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, more than one dozen mayors marched alongside parade grand marshal Freedom For All Massachusetts, the campaign to uphold the transgender protections signed into law by Republican Governor Charlie Baker in 2016. Freedom For All Americans is a leading member of the Freedom for All Massachusetts campaign.

Freedom For All Americans houses the Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination coalition, which all present mayors at Pride belong to; currently, the group totals over 300 elected officials in 48 states across the country who have added their voices to the growing chorus of those speaking out against LGBTQ Discrimination. In a statement, the coalition offered:

“The Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination coalition is committed to ensuring basic protections so that all people all treated fairly, no matter who they are or where they live. We strongly support the transgender nondiscrimination law in Massachusetts that has been in effect for nearly two years and which now faces a critical fight at the ballot this Election Day. As mayors, we uniquely know the importance of moving forward to strengthen communities and provide a welcoming, safe environment for all neighbors and businesses, and we oppose any ballot measure that would take the state backwards by removing critical protections.”

Freedom For All Americans thanks Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination and Freedom for All Massachusetts for their continued commitment to uphold protections for transgender people in the Bay State.

 

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Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination Welcomes Two New Co-Chairs!

June 11, 2018 by admin

Our Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination coalition is proud to welcome two new co-chairs to leadership positions, continuing to keep momentum moving forward as we work toward full lived equality for LGBTQ people.

The two new co-chairs are Mayor Sly James of Kansas City, MO, and Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle, WA.

Both offered statements upon taking up their new positions.

Mayor Sly James:

“If we truly believe in freedom and justice for all, then there is no room for discrimination in any form against our friends, family, and co-workers, who are LGBTQIA. It is time to unite and advocate for fair and equal treatment of all people in Kansas City and every other part of this country. I look forward to advocating for the LGBT community as co-chair of Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination and ensuring that everyone is welcome and supported in every community across the country.”

Mayor Jenny Durkan

“As mayor, I take seriously my responsibility to ensure that all Seattle residents can work hard, provide for their families, and live their most authentic lives without fear of discrimination. I look forward to continuing to stand up for LGBT people and for the values of fairness and equality in my role as co-chair of Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination. When we treat everyone with respect and dignity at home, our local communities thrive.”

These two mayors step into the shoes of former San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, a founding member of the coalition who tragically  passed away last year. Mayors Durkan and James join Mayor Jim Kenney from Philadelphia, PA and Mayor Muriel Bowser from Washington, D.C.

Both mayors become co-chairs shortly in advance of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which took place in Boston over the weekend.  Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination held a brief meeting during the conference.

Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination is a program of Freedom for All Americans, the bipartisan campaign to secure nondiscrimination protections for LGBT Americans nationwide.

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Mayors Speak Out Against Supreme Court’s Discriminatory Decision in ‘Masterpiece Cakeshop’

June 4, 2018 by admin

Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in the Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case, ruling in favor of a bakery that refused to sell a cake to a same-sex couple. However, in its decision, the Court did state that the principle of nondiscrimination is an important one, and placed the impetus for their decision on the initial action of the defendants, who they ruled violated the Free Expression Clause.

Although not a sweeping loss, the decision renews the call for federal protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Federal legislation, including the Equality Act, is currently pending in the United States Congress to correct this injustice.

Mayors in our coalition will no doubt be greatly discouraged by today’s decision, as it provides a continuing problem regarding the treatment of LGBTQ people. The majority opinion in Masterpiece, in fact, runs counter to the views of a supermajority of Americans – a recent poll from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) found that six in ten Americans (60%) oppose allowing a small business owner in their state to refuse products or services to gay or lesbian people if providing them would violate their religious beliefs.

Before Masterpiece was heard at the Court, and with the guidance of Freedom for All Americans, our Mayors Against LGBTQ Discrimination coalition elevated the voices of municipal leaders in an amicus brief that included more than 150 mayors representing 50 million constituents from big cities and smaller municipalities across the country. Read the brief here.

The day of arguments at the Court, December 5, over 30 mayors signed a statement as part of the #OpentoAll movement, comprised of municipalities, businesses, and other groups. The statement said, in part:

“As mayors of cities large and small, we hold a special responsibility to protect our residents and ensure their equal participation in public life. Discrimination, whatever the cause, serves no purpose but to divide our communities. Equality for our LGBTQ residents does not reduce our freedom of speech nor our religious expression – it enhances it.”

In addition, several members of our coalition wrote op-eds, speaking in favor of the principle of nondiscrimination and supporting the couple at the center of the case; among them, Lydia Lavelle of Carrboro, NC, Chris Roberts of Shoreline, WA, and our group of co-chairs, including Ed Lee of San Francisco who tragically passed away before the end of 2017.

The fight is far from over: We must continue working for our vision of a future where no one faces discrimination because of who they are. For now, the most important thing you can do is to voice your support of LGBTQ people and speak out against the ruling: share our Facebook and Twitter posts on your social media.

With your support, we will keep fighting to make nondiscrimination a reality for all LGBTQ people nationwide.

Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination is a program of Freedom for All Americans, the campaign to secure LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections nationwide.

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